The heat and humidity of my adopted state of Florida are not just uncomfortable but dangerous. From 2010 to 2020 Florida had 215 reported heat-related deaths but these deaths have increased 95% from 2010 to 2022. This is what would be expected, given that climate change has led to ever warmer summer temperatures in Florida. In my own experience, running or doing outside work in the summer is brutal. As such, it makes sense that recently Miami-Dade County had proposed requiring that construction and farm workers get 10-minute breaks in the shade for every two hours worked outside. In response, the Republican controlled Florida legislature and Governor DeSantis rushed into action, passing and signing HB433. This law makes all local heat protection measures “void and prohibited.” Instead, the state standards would apply, although none exist. Florida is, of course, subject to Federal OSHA requirements (state and local workers are excluded) and these require employers to keep workplaces free of recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious harm and this includes heat dangers.

This provides another good example of the inconsistency in the professed principles of the Republican party. After all, Republicans usually stress how they support states’ rights against the federal government and local rights against state government. However, Republicans do not seem to believe in this principle. Rather, their position on bigger versus smaller governments seems to depend entirely on which level of government is doing what they want. For example, since the Democrats could (but will not) pass a federal abortion law, the Republican’s profess the principle that the states should decide on this issue.

But the party wants to put a federal abortion ban in place when Trump is re-elected. When that happens, they will employ their stock argument for when they want the bigger government entity to decide, which is to contend that allowing local control will create a patchwork of laws and regulations and that it is better to have uniform laws. As HB433 and other example show, they only apply this principle when the uniform laws are the laws they want. When the uniform law is one they do not like, they profess a love of local governance. That is, their principle is that they want the law to be what they like and not what they do not like. Being honest about this might look bad, hence they present the illusion of having a principle in their arguments and rhetoric. But I often wonder if they even need to do this. The fact that they take time to profess a principle they clearly do not follow suggests that they think they need to do so. This might be because they think it will fool those who care about the principle but somehow do not notice that they do not follow it. Alternatively, it might be aimed at allowing rationalization. For example, a Republican voter can tell themselves that this law is good because it makes the law uniform and avoids a patchwork. Then, when the same voter hears Trump say that abortion should be decided by the states because local governments should decide, they can tell themselves that this is good and true. It seems simpler to just be honest, but there is probably some reason why Republicans persist in professing principles they clearly do not believe.

The defense of the bill also provides another good example of how Republicans argue against regulations aimed at protecting people from harm inflicted by businesses. Republican Rep. Tiffany Esposito ably presented the stock jobs argument of the Republican party: “This is very much a people-centric bill. If we want to talk about Floridians thriving, they do that by having good job opportunities. And if you want to talk about health and wellness, and you want to talk about how we can make sure that all Floridians are healthy, you do that by making sure that they have a good job. And in order to provide good jobs, we need to not put businesses out of business.” The structure of the jobs argument is this:


Premise 1. Something is proposed to protect the health and wellness of consumers or workers from harm caused by a business.

Premise 2. It is claimed that health and wellness come from having a good job.

Premise 3. Business must be in business to provide good jobs.

Premise 4. This something would put business out of business.

Conclusion: This something must be prevented.


On the face of it, the reasoning has a certain appeal in that if it were true that something intended to protect health and well being would have the opposite effect, then it should not be done. But are these claims true? The second premise can be seen as true because health insurance is linked to employment and because you generally need a job to get food, shelter, and other survival essentials. Presumably a good job would provide benefits and adequate pay. The third premise is true. The fourth premise is the most critical. Republicans almost always claim that regulating business would put business out of business, despite that fact that businesses have been both regulated and profitable since the start of the United States. This is not to deny that there can be bad regulations, but simply saying that something would put businesses out of business is not enough to prove this is true. For example, the 10-minute break rule would not put a business out of business. In fact, allowing such breaks would be more likely to increase productivity of workers since it would allow them time to recover somewhat from the heat.

But it might be objected that some local governments might put requirements into effect that would put business out of business and hence this law is needed to prevent that from happening. My first reply is to point out that another professed Republican principle is that they are for small government, and this would mean not expanding government by creating more laws unless there is a clear need. But the proposals seem quite reasonable and unlikely to destroy businesses. Now if some county went rogue and started a war on capitalism, then perhaps such a law would be needed. My second reply is to note that Florida essentially did nothing about the increasing danger presented by heat and is only complying with the OSHA requirements that amount to businesses mostly not being allowed to kill or harm workers. That is, Florida is doing the least it can possibly do to address the increasing danger presented by heat and ensuring that no one in the state can do more. While this is presented as pro-business and “not having more heat protection is good for the workers, actually” it also seems to be an act of cruelty, which is consistent with what seems to be a true principle of the Republican party, namely cruelty for the sake of cruelty.

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